Emma Samms: Canine Cunning

PUBLISHED: 12:36 13 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:35 07 January 2016

Emma Samms with Chester and Willis

Emma Samms with Chester and Willis


I asked who owned the dog but nobody knew, and when I asked the dog it just smiled at me. This was one smart dog.

Ray and BischeRay and Bische

Pets are supposed to be good for your health. Apparently they lower your blood pressure and give you a sense of well-being. I’d like the doctor who came up with this hypothesis to try chasing a Labradoodle who’s chasing a herd of cows for half an hour and take his or her own blood pressure afterwards. Chester didn’t catch the cows, of course. He didn’t want to catch them, he just thought that they were very large dogs and he wanted to play with them. As Chester ran circles around them, the cows, (not particularly playful beasts), kept moving away, en-masse, to more and more distant fields. I shouted, I whistled, I reasoned with Chester and explained to him that the farmer would be totally within his rights to shoot him, but Chester would have none of it. Naturally, he’s been on a lead ever since, but his doleful looks accompanied by the occasional lurch in the direction of cows, rabbits or apparently playful bits of foliage do nothing for my shoulder sockets. Or for my blood pressure.

I also have Willis, who is much smaller and marginally less trouble. As a rescue dog I believe he has a little more appreciation for how good he has it now and is therefore more biddable.

I’ve ‘rescued’ a few dogs over the years from a few unlikely places but possibly the best result was when I found an injured dog at a fair in a small town just outside of New Orleans. More accurately, this dog found me. I was on assignment as a photographer (a whole other subject to be discussed in another column) and as I walked around I noticed a thin dog, limping after me. I asked who owned the dog but nobody knew and when I asked the dog, it simply smiled at me. At the end of the day, when I was about to leave, the dog was still following me, still limping and still smiling so I did what most of us would do, I picked it up and took it to my car. A few phone calls later and I was heading to the only vet’s practice in the area with the dog happily infesting the back seat of my rental car with fleas and goodness knows what else.

The vet was lovely. I explained that I would be leaving for Texas in the morning but I gave him my credit card and asked that he do whatever was necessary to restore the dog to health. It turned out that this poor dog had been shot in the leg, probably weeks earlier and the resulting fracture had healed on its own, though poorly. The dog was so malnourished that they didn’t even bathe it until it had put on some weight, for fear that the chill would kill it.

The time came when it was better. I was now travelling through Iowa, meaning I could hardly go and collect it. The vet explained that he needed the space for other patients so a decision was made. I called my friend and Dynasty co-star Ray Abruzzo in LA. He had recently lost a much beloved dog and had vowed never to get another, but I told him that the dog had to be shipped and please could he just pick it up at the airport as I’d be home in a couple of days? He agreed.

Helpfully, the vet had written up the dog’s whole tragic story in the paperwork, even including the bullet removed from the dog’s leg in a little bag attached to the crate. What I didn’t tell Ray was that, as I already owned three dogs, I wouldn’t be able to adopt this one too. The City of Los Angeles only permits three dogs per household in residential areas. Another home would have to be found.

Ray collected the dog, which he reported, had smiled at him (this was one smart dog) and every evening I called Ray to tell him that my trip had become “unavoidably extended by another day.” It wasn’t until Ray told me that they’d just been for a gentle run on the beach after which he’d massaged the injured leg for ten minutes that I felt it safe to return. Ray and Bische, as he called her (not sure why) lived happily together for the next fifteen years in a house right on the beach in Malibu.

Now THAT gives me a sense of well-being.

This article was taken from the Pets Issue of Cotswold Life November 2015.

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